Sunday, May 25, 2014

Marine Corps Historic Half

Last Sunday I didn't want to wake up.  I didn't want to put my running clothes on.  I was questioning what made me sign up for this race again.  But once I got to the race I was in running mode.  It was a perfect morning to run.  Not too hot.  I believe it was in the 50's at the start of the race.  

This race is not my favorite race.  I am not really into hills and this race has a few hills and one really big hill that bites me every year.  Why do I sign up for this race?  It is only 15 minutes from my house.  How can I stay in bed when a half marathon is happening 15 minutes away??  So this was the third year I ran this race.

Two weeks ago I ran Pittsburgh and I was hating life.  I jokingly said that was my training run for Historic Half.  I may have not been joking.  I knew that hospital hill (more like mountain) was going to be is every year.  I knew that I needed to just run slow and steady so I would not have to walk a bunch.  It is amazing how if I start off too fast it kills me for most of the race, but start off in my sweet spot and it is suddenly a great day to run!  Sunday was a pretty darn good day to run.

I didn't know what kind of day it was going to be when we crossed the start line.  I figured if I could finish Pittsburgh, I could finish the Historic Half.  Turned out that I was in for a pretty good day.  There was a slight breeze which felt really great as I was getting really sweaty.  I ran most of the first 10 miles.  And my 10 mile time was pretty on what my normal 10 mile time is.  So I was doing much better than two weeks ago.  I also ended up talking to a guy that I ran a bit with at Marine Corp Marathon last October.  Talk about a small world. We chatted a bit.  He was run/walking since he just got out of the hospital the day before.  (yeah not sure if I would be running)  When he started to walk I said my good byes and wished him luck.

As I said I felt pretty good up until mile 10.  I knew what was going to happen after mile 10.  Hospital Hill.  Sort of ironic that the hill that tries to kill runners happens outside of a hospital.  Every year this hill kills me.  This year it was not much different.  One of these days I will conquer that hill.  I walked the hill and the hill after that hill.  I was done with the run at this point.

As I approached the finish line I glanced at the girl running beside me.  Wonder if she is up for a bit of a race to the finish.  Turns out she was.  Without saying a word we start to run a bit faster.  I get a smile on my face as I try to ensure that she does not cross that finish line before me.  Some of the guys cheering are yelling don't let her beat you!  Run!  Not sure who they were cheering on (I'm sure it was me)  My foot crossed the mat a moment before her foot did.  Yeah that was a great ending to a race! 

For a race that I didn't want to run, I am so glad I put my running shoes on and crossed the start line.  It was a beautiful day to run!  I got to thank a bunch of Marines and run the streets of Fredericksburg, VA.  Also I always like to run races when mini horses cheer me on. 

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Pittsburgh Half of my new favorites

So two weeks ago (yes it has taken me that long to write this one) I ran the Pittsburgh Half with Megan.  We both had awesome training going into this race.  I had my 4 mile long run and Megan was pretty much rockin' about the same long run.  I knew that this race had the potential to be very ugly.  I was either going to end up writing up new training plans with the longest run for a half marathon being 4 miles and selling said plan online because of my stellar PR or I was going to be hating life pretty shortly into the run.  I was really thinking that this race could go down as a personal worst.

We headed up to PA right after work on Friday.  We stayed at my parent's house about an hour away from Pittsburgh.  The plan was to get up and head to Pittsburgh on Saturday,  hit the expo and then do some sightseeing and see what we wanted to do.  This was Megan's first trip to Pittsburgh and since she is a Cinci girl I wanted her not to hate our city even though her city and my city do not like each other.  (hello Steelers vs. Bengals)  So we got in late chatted with mom and then shortly headed to sleep.  Woke up and took her on the tour of Indiana, PA home of Jimmy Stewart.  My small little town.  We got our pictures taken with Jimmy Stewart.

After showing her the sights of Indiana (which was the Jimmy Stewart Statue and the house where he used to live) we headed to Pittsburgh and looked for the expo.

 Found my name on the runner's wall.

You know you have been to an expo when you really can not find much to buy.  We both were in the same boat.  I ended up buying a sweatyband and a new spibelt since I couldn't find mine at home.  Turns out it was in the drawer that I looked in twice and didn't find the belt.  Ugh.. Looks like I now have two spi belts.


We headed to Primanti Bros' to have a wonderful Pittsburgh Sandwich.  We doubled up on some fries.. fries on the sandwich and a side of fries with cheese.  What?  We were carb loading yo

After lunch we were in search of ice cream.  But mother nature had other plans.  She decided ice cream was not a good idea but pouring rain was wonderful!  So we ducked into a Dunkin' Donuts for coffee and hot chocolate instead.  

After the rain left we decided to find our hotel and then hopefully it would still be rain free and we could head over to Station Square and head up the incline to Mount Washington. We got lucky the rain came and went and we were able to squeeze in a ride up the incline before the rain came back.

We then headed to Station Square to see if we could sniff out some steak.  We both enjoy some protein before a long run.  I find when I have pasta the night before I feel like I have no energy.  

The next morning we woke up and headed for parking.  I was a bit unsure of what we were going to find for parking so we woke up a bit early for the race.  We stayed three miles away and woke up at the same time I would for a race 30 miles away.  Turned out it was a good choice.  We headed to find parking.  Hit a bit of traffic in the tunnel and then headed over towards the stadiums to find some parking.  We ended up taking a lane that nobody seemed to be using.  I figured if it was the wrong lane I would claim out of towner with my VA plates.  Turned out that everyone should have followed me..we found parking with no problem while everyone else was waiting in a very long line on the exit ramp.  Score one for us!

Megan and I decided that we would run or run/walk this one together since we both had wonderful training going into this race.  Turns out that it was pretty fun.  It was great to have someone to talk to and complain to.  Although I am not sure Megan loved all of my complaining...especially at mile 7 when I wanted to just turn around and head back to the start :)  She claims that it would be a longer walk to the start because we were 7 miles in..I claim that math and running don't I guess we should just keep moving forward.  :)

well..back to prerace and not mile 7 talk...

We walked across the bridge and saw the prettiest thing ever!  Portapotties with NO LINE!!  Yeah you read that right..30,000 people and we didn't have to wait in line at a portapottie.  Now I am not sure if this was everyone's experience at this race, but it was great to have no line before the race.  We knew we were cutting it close needing the portapotties and bagcheck.  It was 6:20 and we were supposed to get to our corrals by 6:45.  Guess the race gods were on our side.  After we headed over to bag check. They had three different areas for bag check.  I loved it.  You walk  up to a Fed Ex truck hand your stuff over and remember the truck number.  At the end you find the truck and they give you your stuff.  Once lines!  Talk about well organized!  The only bad thing was it was starting to rain again.  No problem, once we started running it stopped raining.

You can't tell here..but Megan and I wore matching Yinz run Like Jagoffs shirts!  People loved it!  Too bad it wasn't really a wicking shirt.  The sweat I was holding on to was not pretty!  I did wear a tank underneath to combat the sweat issue.   At mile 3ish Megan had to stop to use the portapotties and she asked if I dumped water on myself.  Nope...sweat. Yeah I am a gross runner.

My college roommate Ronya, her husband and her sister came down to cheer me on.  How nice was that.  And they had a sign and Ronya made a Go Pam shirt with sequins!!  I love signs and shirts with my name on it!

So it was fun seeing them three times during the race.  At mile 9 I did ask where there car was located..thinking maybe I could get a lift back to the finish.  But turns out it was about 4 miles away..looks like we were going to end up running the race. :)

I will say my performance was not great (understatement) but I really loved this race!  They had bands every mile or so..the crowds were wonderful!  We ran across 5 bridges.  The course was relatively flat for PA.  Now the marathon looks like a b*tch with hills.  At the end you got a Eat N' Park Smiley Face cookie.

You can't beat that for a race.  I am thinking that this race ranks up there as one of my top two favorite races.  I would so do this one again.  Although I may want to run longer than 4 miles prior to running the half.

Time wise this was not my worst race, nor was it my best race. Considering the amount of walking and slow running..I'm pretty happy with the day.  

The cheering section and the runners headed to a bar for some food before heading back to the hotel to shower and head home.  Great running weather for a race.  We are runners of steel!!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Where have I been???

I know it has been awhile since I have last blogged.  That is because I have been so busy running...or at least thinking about running. I think I have hit a running funk.  I blame the winter.  Taking the winter off of running makes it harder to start back up.  I had this great plan for running.  I ran Rock n Roll USA half on St. Paddy's weekend and then two months later I would run Pittsburgh Half.  I would use Rock n Roll to get back to running.  Well turns out my training was not the best, but I will get to that later.  There really is a theme to my blog...called lack of following a training plan.  Well this time I really did not follow a training plan.  But again I am jumping ahead.

End of March brought rain and more snow.  Yes I said snow at the end of March in DC!  Ugh...I was starting to think that we would never see the end of the white stuff!  Then pretty quickly spring break happened.  I knew I wasn't going to run a bunch over spring break since I was heading to South America!  Becky moved to Colombia to teach last summer.  So I couldn't pass up the possibility of free room, see South America and see Becky!  Colombia was great!  I had such a fun time. I did take my running stuff and shoes, but we never ended up with time to run.  If it wasn't hot as hell, we were walking up mountains.  And really nobody wants to run up mountains!  We did do a lot of walking. That is sort of like running right?  
 First night in Colombia!

We found a brewery to visit!

I got back home on April 19th.  I had one week of training left and then the next week was the Pittsburgh Half Marathon.  You can cram in weeks worth of running into one week right?  Yeah wrong.  I did some more running, but nothing like I should be running the week before a half.  My longest run before Pittsburgh was a little over 4 miles.  Yeah I was going in with hopes of a PR for Pittsburgh! lol  Why do I do this to myself??

Stay tuned to find out how I did at the Pittsburgh Half Marathon!